Benaulim Beach, Goa, India.
Goa, on the southwest coast of India, is basically a huge stretch of beaches along the Arabian Sea. Culturally, it’s unique in that it was settled by the Portuguese. So not only is it the only predominantly Christian area in India, but you’ll be surprised at how many people go by the names of Fernandes and Silva.
In general it’s touristy, no doubt about it, but not all of the beaches are created equal. I got to hang out on two of them, and for a winter vacation away from Korea is was pretty much perfect.
Benaulim is in south Goa, about 20 kilometers south of the airport and the main city of Panjim. As far as the beaches go, there’s a wide range but the basic difference is popularity. Some of the beaches are sparse, and some are relatively full. Benaulim is one of the quieter ones. Also, there are tons of Russians on holiday, a few Australians and Brits, and as far as I can tell I was the only American. Even the Indians I met were surprised.
After a swim in the ocean this is how I roll. Perfection.
The food was fantastic. Goan cuisine is less about curry and more about veggies and seafood. There are lots of little shacks along the beach where you can relax with a beer or get some really great grub.
If you’re looking for a polished, five-star resort experience you can get it if you’re willing to pay for the more luxurious hotels. Otherwise, everything is a little bit broken down but in a pleasant way, if that makes any sense.
Maria Hall Crossroads, the sleepy little village that has those most important of necessities in the area — an ATM.
There are tons of beaches in Goa, but I’d humbly recommend Benaulim as a good choice for peace and quiet. Waking up and starting my day with a swim in the Arabian Sea is pretty much my idea of heaven, and there’s just enough of a tourist infrastructure for some really pleasant places to eat and relax.
After the energy and intensity of Mumbai, there’s nothing better.